(Click here to read the lecture on a single webpage.)
Of course the very word, Cathedral, by which the Bishop’s church is identified, makes reference to his chair. The word Cathedral exists as a noun, but it is basically an adjective defining a building by reference to the Bishop’s cathedra, a Greek word for chair. In other words a Cathedral, by its very essence, for the function that it fulfils, contains the chair of a Bishop from which he exercises his role as teacher and presider of the Church’s liturgy.
The set up of the chancel or choir of St Mungo’s Cathedral and the place of the Bishop’s chair must be a matter of speculation. While the merchants and tradesmen of the city are credited with protecting the Cathedral from structural damage, they clearly did not prevent the stripping of the altars and the removal of all objects of piety and presumably all other ornaments of the Cathedral which in their ascendancy the reformers with the support of the Lords of the Congregation required should be implemented, all to be taken out apparently and burnt.
There is no report to the best of my knowledge of whether that was done with great public spectacle, though there must have been many who were both shocked and saddened at such great destruction. All this happened in the wake of the Reformation Parliament of 1560 when the Catholic Mass was banned, a reformed profession of faith introduced, and recourse to the Holy See prohibited.
The last of the medieval bishops in communion with the Holy See, James Beaton, made his prudently swift departure, taking with him the chartularies of the lands of the Archbishopbric, other historic papers and precious items including the mace of the University of which he was Chancellor.
In the safety of Paris, however, he continued to act as an Ambassador of the Scottish Crown until his death in 1603, the year when James VI of Scotland became First of England – a convenient concurrence of events. He was restored to some of the temporalities of the See towards the end of the century in recognition of his services to the crown. He had a modest fortune to leave to the Scottish students studying for the priesthood at the University of Paris from which in due course came men to serve the needs of the now ostracised remnant of the Church which remained in communion with the Apostolic See in Rome.
The Cathedral was put to reformed use with three congregations occupying different parts of the building, divided from one another by high stone walls.
The restoration of the Stuart monarchy, after the civil war, gave hopes to those whose allegiances were still with the “auld kirk” particularly with the conversion of James II to the Catholic faith and his marriage to Mary of Modena. It was the birth of their son James, the old pretender, which precipitated the events which led to the Royal family fleeing to the continent and the so-called glorious revolution effected with the arrival in Britain of William and Mary. In the wake of this a Presbyterian order triumphed in Scotland and those who still held to episcopacy had to vacate the places which they occupied and find others wherein they could continue to worship in that form. St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Great Western Road is heir to that tradition.